By Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Directed and Choreographed by Graeme Murphy. Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House from January 17 to March 19 and the Arts Centre, Melbourne from April 10 to May 11, 2012

When the chorus as the proud people of Peking entered the stage, they were so jam-packed you felt if someone pushed in the wrong direction they might all tumble into the orchestra pit.

We know China is crowded, so it was apt that the stage was as well.

More than sixty members of the children’s and adult chorus swayed, marched and mocked in bloodthirsty time to the music.

Terra Nova

By Ted Tally. Genesian Theatre Company (NSW). Directors: Mark Langham and Owen Gimblett. January 14 – February 4, 2012.

With so much attention on the Antarctic past at present, not just the anniversary of the final fatal expedition of Captain Scott, whose story is told in this play, but expeditions following in the steps of Douglas Mawson, and anti-whaling protests, Sydney’s Genesian Theatre has successfully tapped into the theme with a production of the dark but fascinating Terra Nova.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

By Ray Lawler. Director: Neil Armfield. MTC presents the Belvoir production. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. Jan 12 – Feb 18, 2012. Queensland Theatre Company season follows at the Playhouse, QPAC, from Feb 22 to Mar 11, 2012.

The Doll is undeniably one of our best and most enduring plays. This Belvoir production sets a new standard against which future productions will be compared.

Director, Neil Armfield and his inspired cast explore its relevance to modern lifestyles. Starry-eyed Olive tells Pearl that she prefers her annual five months of love, joy and devotion, followed by seven months of warm memories and anticipation of the boys’ return, to the drab routine of modern marriage. A contentious attitude in the fifties; not so confronting these days.

‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

By John Ford. Cheek by Jowl / Sydney Festival. Director: Declan Donnellan. Sydney Theatre. 17-21 January, 2012.

By inviting the great European company Cheek by Jowl to present their sensational version of this Jacobean blood-and-guts epic, the Sydney Festival has delivered a rich, fresh transfusion to local actors and directors. Let’s hope they catch one of the 5 performances.

Stage Fright!

By Richard Tulloch. Based on the best selling books of Paul Jennings. New Theatre, Sydney. Director: Ali Kennedy Scott. January 12 to 28, 2012.

It’s spooky, has cute girls and guys and lots of laughs. This production of Stage Fright! is nicely tuned for the 7 to 13 year old target market.

For the uninitiated, Paul Jennings’ books have lashings of teenage angst about that first kiss, haunted houses and the odd peculiar maths teacher.

This adaptation dips into a number of his novels, and although it does not quite make sense as a complete narrative it works well as a best of night.

Never Did Me Any Harm

Force Majeure / Sydney Theatre Company / Sydney Festival. Wharf 1. January 6 – February 12, 2012.

Never Did Me Any Harm, the collaborative work between the Sydney Theatre Company and Force Majeure for the Sydney Festival has all the right ingredients - a great cast, and fantastic director in Kate Champion and of course the production firepower of the STC behind it.

But this show - so full of promise, misses the mark and quickly descends into cliché and repetitive questions regarding that hot-button issue of “over parenting” and the “bubble generation“.

Love Never Dies

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Glen Slater, Ben Elton, Frederick Forsyth and Charles Hart. The Really Useful Company Asia Pacific and arts Capital Trust. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night. January 12, 2012

Love Never Dies is a sumptuously staged, beautifully sung romantic operetta.


Written/performed by Jeffrey Solomon. Midsumma Festival. Theatre Works, St Kilda (Vic). Acland St, St Kilda. Jan 11 – 21, 2012

A son who has just come through a long struggle to accept his own homosexuality begins a new struggle to gain the acceptance of his disbelieving mum in this moving play by New York-based writer/performer Jeffrey Solomon.

Mother/SON is being presented as part of the Midsumma Festival at Theatre Works, which is an annual celebration of queer culture. It’s being packaged with two other plays under the banner, Men at Work, focused on three very different male performers.

I am Eora

Sydney Festival in association with the Baalnaves Foundation. Director: Wesley Enoch. Writer: Anita Heiss. Carriageworks, Everleigh (NSW). January 8 – 14, 2012.

I am Eora is a little bit (welcome to) country, a little bit rock and roll and a whole lot of other things in between.

The Boys

By Gordon Graham. Griffin Theatre Company / Sydney Festival. SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross (NSW). January 6 – March 3, 2012.

There was much anticipation in Sydney’s theatre-going community as the opening night of Griffin Theatre’s The Boys drew near and it didn’t disappoint.

Twenty years on from its debut on the same stage and Gordon Graham’s script is still fresh, relevant and terrifying. Originally based on the Anita Cobby murder, sadly it is not hard to imagine similar acts making current news headlines. This production is vivid, unrelenting and inescapable in its nature, but at the same time is compelling and completely consuming.

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